There’s nothing Braydon Nugent likes more than spending time at his great-grandparents’ farm. That’s why his mom Emily was so concerned when she noticed how listless her normally energetic almost-four-year old was during a weekend at the farm in August of 2010. When he spiked a fever, she chalked his exhaustion up to a summer virus. Her nurse practitioner agreed and they both felt he would probably be back to his spunky self in a few days. When his fever didn’t subside, and Emily noticed how pale he was, she took Braydon back to the pediatrician’s office.
“Our doctor ran some blood tests and was very concerned by the results. He told me to take him straight to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I barely remember driving there I was so nervous. When we arrived, a team was waiting for us. They drew more labs and admitted him. While we still didn’t know the exact diagnosis, I was getting worried as I watched my independent son seem to grow weaker and paler before my eyes. “
Within 24 hours, Emily was told that Braydon had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. “I couldn’t believe it—I was in shock. That was not what we expected to hear. I started crying and Braydon was so sweet. He kept touching my face, trying to wipe away all my tears because he didn’t like to see me feeling sad.”
The doctors told Emily that Braydon’s treatment needed to start as soon as possible. On August 23, 2010, he received his first round of chemotherapy just four days later.
“Overall, he has done awesome. He has had very few side effects. However, when he lost his hair it was a reality check for me because he finally looked like a cancer patient.” According to Emily, there have been some other “ups and downs” in Braydon’s treatment. “At one point, we thought he had relapsed. He also lost more than seven pounds following one of his treatments, but he has been able to bounce back from everything fairly quickly.”
Braydon responded well to his treatment protocol and went into remission within the first 30 days. He is now in the maintenance phase. “Braydon has all of his hair again and he is back to playing T-Ball. He is a very active and typical four-year-old. We are so grateful to the doctors and staff of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Every single person we met along the way treated him as if he was their own child. They have been wonderful.”
Braydon is one of the honored “Ride for A Child” pediatric cancer patients for Pedal the Cause, a bicycle race in early October to raise money for cancer research in St. Louis. All the proceeds to go St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center.
“We are excited to be involved with Pedal the Cause. Our family knows first-hand the challenges of a cancer diagnosis. While Braydon has benefitted from advances in treatment, it’s important to keep moving forward and find a cure. The fact that the money raised by Pedal the Cause stays in St. Louis is very important to us. When we were considering Braydon’s treatment options, we wanted to make sure we were in the right place. We quickly realized that St. Louis Children’s Hospital was the best place for him—it was exactly where he needed to be. The same goes for research dollars—I know that they are doing great things at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.”